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Softball playoffs: Connolly breaks down Division 4
2014 champion: Santa Monica
Top-four seeded team: 1. Highland of Palmdale (24-2); 2. Dos Pueblos of Goelta (23-4); 3. Torrance (22-9); 4. North Torrance (23-8)
O.C. teams: Loara (19-7); Ocean View (18-6); Segerstrom (20-4)
Analysis: The Golden West League is the only local league represented in the division, and Loara and Ocean View will both play in wild-card games on Tuesday to earn a spot in Thursday’s first round. Segerstrom finished tied with Loara atop the league standings with matching 9-1 clips, but a coin flip has the Jaguars awaiting the winner of Valley Chrtistian and Quartz Hill. Segerstrom closed the year out on a seven-game winning streak, getting quality innings from both Alexandra Mendoza (1.23 ERA) and Daniela Alvarez (1.02 ERA). Loara’s Vanessa Ledesma and Ocean View’s Billi Derleth are also proven right-handers who could toss gems any given afternoon.
Top-seeded Highland appears to be the overwhelming favorite in the division, however, with UCLA-bound Rachel Garcia in the circle. The senior ace finished the regular season with a 22-2 record and a 0.26 ERA. She tossed six no-hitters and two perfect games on the year. Strangely enough, one of her perfect games actually wound up being one of her two losses thanks to the International Tiebreaker rule. Crazy to think she got the “L” in a game she struck out 23 of the 24 batters she faced.